My Service Snake
by Steve Eaton
snake on a plane

SO EVERYTHING WENT SMOOTHLY until we arrived at the airport. They didn’t want to let me board with my service snake. This guy in one of those blue police shirts with epaulets on the shoulder is all like, “we don’t know how the other passengers might react” and “your pet could harm other travelers.”

Epaulets. Epaulets. Epaulets.

Anyway that’s all my wife needs to hear. She goes “the only ones who should be scared of my husband’s service animal are rats! Are you a rat?” Then she looks at all the people behind us getting impatient and goes, “Anyone who’s a rat might want to wait for the next flight!”

And the officer goes, “well your pet will be perfectly fine in the cargo hold”. That doesn’t help! She goes, “This is not a pet, sir. This animal has been professionally trained to help my husband deal with the crippling anxiety he experiences on any kind of aircraft. Unless you want to see him throw up and start shaking and going into spasms all the way to Reykjavik!”

It’s all true except the “professionally trained” part is a stretch.

And how is Ayu handling all this commotion? I unzip her travel bag a couple of inches and take a peek. She’s a gorgeous lemon-yellow five-foot Miniature Balinese Mango Python, with flecks of green on her belly and emerald eyes. If she’s perturbed, she doesn’t show it. But then her breed is known for calm in the face of crisis.

Meanwhile the blueshirts are having a little confab over by the x-ray machine. Then the first guy comes over and asks, “do you have the paperwork?”

As the cabin doors close and they do that terrifying little life-vest demo I unzip the bag and gently lift Ayu out. As we head down the runway and the engines go into high gear she gracefully winds her cool, lustrous body around my neck and shoulders. Everything’s going to be ok.

Steve Eaton is an ESL instructor and translator of modern Italian fiction residing in Austin, Texas. His translations of Pirandello’s stories “Moonsick” (“Male di luna”) and “’Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine!’” appear in the fall 2017 issue of the journal Metamorphoses. Check out his blog, The Garden of Eaton.

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